Every so often, we get a support request from a Springnest customer about an email they received from an external SEO consultant or company. These emails usually imply that someone high up like a Manager or Technical Expert took a look at the business' website. They found a series of important problems to solve, and they have the answer to the problem (for a fee, of course).
Below is a screenshot of such a message that made its rounds in the Springnest community recently.
Why am I receiving these emails, and should I be worried?
Think about it: a complete stranger sends you an unsolicited email about your business' website, guaranteeing to solve a series of issues you never worried about until now, and likely don't understand.
Sounds like snake oil to me.
- These emails are sent as part of mass spam campaigns, and are not tailored to your business or website.
- While there are many online SEO reporting tools that could generate SEO summaries for your website without your consent, the person or company who sent this to you, doesn't have the access to information to offer strategic SEO advice.
- Ironically, taking someone up on this type of SEO pitch could cause the very issues they are warning you against.
Why do businesses even care about unsolicited emails from complete strangers?
Because not understanding something can cause panic.
SEO is an inherently technical topic, meaning that the average hotel, guest house, or activity business owner has absolutely no idea how their website is being ranked on Google, or whether they should pay more attention to it. Unfortunately, this makes them vulnerable to opportunistic SEO “experts” (I'm using inverted commas because anyone who needs to send cold emails and use fearmongering to sell SEO services, is the opposite of an expert in my view).
Perceived problems (what businesses feel pressured to solve)
- W3C Markup Validation
- Header response code checkup
- Meta Robots
- Keyword Quantum Leapology (Ok, I made that one up)
Actual, underlying concerns (questions businesses should be asking)
- Am I getting enough value from my website provider for the price I am paying?
- Are there digital marketing tactics that my competitors understand, and I don't?
- Are my competitors getting more bookings this season? Am I missing out on revenue?
Are you saying SEO is a hoax?
Not at all.
SEO continues to be an important tactic to reach guests and raise awareness around your website and business. But it's exactly that, one potential tactic. SEO has also evolved immensely since the days when those SEO spam emails held any real weight. There's no magic wand to wave to get your website to outrank your competitors.
Like any other marketing tactic (paid ads, email marketing, social media marketing, loyalty campaigns, trade fairs), SEO requires a strategy and budget. It can get extremely nuanced and involves much more than a once-off audit or researching some keywords. You can decide whether investing in SEO is a worthwhile investment compared to other tactics. If it is, there are two types of work you should include in your strategy:
a) Technical SEO (minimum requirements of a good website)
- Your website must be fast and easy to use, on all devices. If your website is developed properly this should not be a big concern.
- Your website has technical components like Meta Tags and URLs which should be set up to be search engine friendly. The way your pages are built should also include something called structured data. These are like labels for Google, making it easier to understand your content, and increasing the changes of your website showing up in different types of search results.
- When search engines like Google introduce changes to the way they rank and index websites (also known as algorithm updates), your website needs to meet these technical requirements.
b) Ongoing, strategic SEO (things that will cost additional time and money)
- Keyword and customer research to determine how people search for your product, and which words you need to rank for to get the right people to land on your website.
- Regular, new content (blog articles, destination information, room descriptions, itineraries, reviews), containing the words from the point above.
- Adding alt tags to images (essentially helping search engines understand what your images are about). While Google is becoming good at understanding the contents of photos, there is still a way to go in terms of context. A double bed in Joburg looks the same as a double bed in Cape Town. And Kimberley. And Paris.
- Links from other, relevant websites (also called Backlinks). Think of these as an SEO-vote-of-confidence from other brands and businesses.
- Your profile and activity on your Google Business Profile and Google Maps.
- There are more, but these will have the most impact and will keep you, your SEO agency, or SEO consultant busy for a while.
What SEO is included in my Springnest Plan?
Everything in the technical part (point a 👆)
What can I do to increase my visibility and ranking?
- Ignore future SEO spam emails (and don't click links or open attachments)
- Ask yourself what business problem you are hoping to solve. More traffic? More bookings? Both? How much budget are you willing to allocate to increase these metrics?
- Check your business vitals. Take a look at your website performance report in Springnest Dashboard (or Google Analytics if you have that set up), alongside your booking engine report. This should give you a good indication whether you need to generate more traffic and awareness, or whether you are, in fact, seeing good traffic, and simply need to convert more of your website visitors into bookers.
- If you have the interest and time to do SEO in-house, browse our resources and start educating yourself. Regular content updates, running a blog, and adding Alt tags to your images are practical steps you can ytake in-house without much technical knowledge.
- The other option is to hire a (real) expert. Ask us about Springnest-approved SEO consultants and writers.
Is there anything else you'd like us to write about?
Please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com, we'd love to hear from you.